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Ant-backed Zomato’s roaring India debut sets pace for Internet-based startups

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Food delivery firm Zomato Ltd. shares on Friday nearly doubled in a stellar first listing of a local unicorn in India, setting the pace for a slew of such debuts by Internet-based startups that are thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc-backed Paytm, hospitality company Oyo Hotels and ride-hailing firm Ola, both backed by SoftBank, are among the startups set to enter markets, riding on support from foreign funds and local investors.

Shares of Zomato, backed by China’s Ant Group, soared 82.8 percent after opening at 116 rupees in pre-open trade, a 53 percent premium to the offer price of 76 rupees for the 93.75 billion rupees IPO, valuing the company at about $12 billion.

“Growth is key here. Zomato might not be profitable but it is growing exponentially and is enviably positioned to keep that momentum,” said Danni Hewson, a financial analyst with AJ Bell, an investment platform in England.

“Being first in a sector that’s been so successful in other countries will whet the appetite even more.”

Zomato is the first startup to go public in India’s food delivery market, which research firm RedSeer estimated is worth $4.2 billion.

The home-grown food aggregator, launched in 2008, operates in about 525 cities in India and has partnered with close to 390,000 restaurants.

It offers home delivery of food, allows customers to book tables for dining-in and collates restaurant reviews, making it a competitor to SoftBank-backed Swiggy and Amazon.com’s food delivery service.

The company’s offering last week drew bids worth $46.3 billion as it was more than 38 times oversubscribed, with big institutional investors also placing major bets.

Zomato’s loss for the year ended March 31 narrowed to 8.13 billion rupees, while revenue from operations fell slightly year-on-year to 19.94 billion rupees.

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Aramco, Schlumberger lead a financing round for a hydrogen battery company

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EnerVenue, the first company to offer metallic hydrogen batteries, announced that it has raised $100 million in Series A funding, led by Schlumberger New Energy and Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV)- Aramco Ventures’ capital programme, the company said in a statement.

EnerVenue has established a framework for a major distribution and manufacturing agreement with Schlumberger, which will contribute to the wider availability of its batteries in global markets.

The company develops robust, flexible, and secure battery energy storage solutions based on technology proven over decades of use under the most extreme flight conditions, including operating the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Enervenue was created in 2020 to bring the proven advantages of the metallic hydrogen battery into the electrical grid and other power applications, after a series of developments to significantly reduce cost and increase the availability of raw materials for the technology created by NASA in this field.

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Dubai’s DP World to invest $414.8m in London Gateway port

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Logistics operator DP World is investing £300 million ($414.8 million) to build a fourth berth at its London Gateway hub.

Construction will begin in October, the Dubai company said in a statement, as it aims to boost capacity for large vessels.

“As a central pillar of Thames Freeport, London Gateway’s new fourth berth will allow even more customers to benefit from world class ports and logistics,” said Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, the chairman of DP World.

Operated by DP World, the London Gateway is a port within the wider Port of London. It was opened in 2013.

British chancellor Rishi Sunak said the Thames Freeport will “create national hubs of trade, innovation and commerce, and attract investment” for the UK.

The investment will support this goal, he added, saying it will create new trade opportunities and support local jobs.

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SoftBank makes first Saudi startup investment in $125m deal with PIF-owned Sanabil

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Customer engagement startup Unifonic has raised $125 million in its latest funding round led by SoftBank and a unit of the Public Investment Fund.

News of the deal first came out in June, but was only officially announced on Wednesday, making it the first investment of SoftBank in a Saudi startup.

The Riyadh-based startup provides messaging, voice, and WhatsApp communication services to companies who want to engage with customers.

“From SMS for online banking to WhatsApp vaccination requests, Unifonic empowers organizations to transform customer experiences,” it said in a statement.

It claims to support businesses by providing a cost-effective communication infrastructure.

The Series B funds will be used to grow Unifonic’s platform in the Middle East, and further expand to Africa and Asia. It also plans to acquire companies in these markets.

“This raise is an important milestone in our journey, it will allow us to scale our offerings and expand our reach to enable more organizations to connect with customers reliably and effectively,” its founder Ahmed Hamdan said.

PIF unit Sanabil also took part in the funding round.

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